Pilates Origins

“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”

This quote comes from Joseph Pilates who created his renowned matwork exercises, which we know today as Pilates, and which he called ‘The Art of Contrology.’

joseph pilatesHe was born in Germany in the 1880s. As a child he suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever which left him with poor bone structure and twisted limbs. He was a sickly child who decided to take action to improve his health.

Joe studied a range of disciplines such as yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, skiing, self defence, dance, circus training and weight training and selected aspects from each which he found to be most effective, to develop his system of contrology.

In the 1920s Joe and his wife Clara travelled to the USA and set up their first studio in New York. His clients were predominantly from the boxing and ballet communities. Many of them greatly influenced how his methods evolved, and some went on to teach their own individual methods of Joe’s practice which can be evidenced today.

Joe never doubted that his method would one day become popular worldwide, and Pilates practice is still rooted in his original teachings. Through the advances of exercise science, teachers today have been able to adapt Joe’s technique so that Pilates can be practised safely and effectively by almost everyone.

“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life.
The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”

Joe said this one year before he died at the age of 87.

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